The Music of Glee: Episode 2×21 – Funeral

It was a pretty random mix in this episode, with some new gems, but mostly, returns to form. Still, let’s take a look at the music of GLEE’s Season Two episode, “Funeral.”

Back to Black
Written by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson
Most Notably Performed by Amy Winehouse
Performed on GLEE by  Naya Rivera

The title track from Winehouse’s second album, Back to Black, this wasn’t the biggest hit on the record, but it was one of the best of the collection. With her raspy delivery, her trademark razor-blade lyrics and instrumentation by the legendary Dap Kings, this is about as good as any of them have ever been.

Josh Note: You all know this song, and probably the album it came from, but as we sit around and wait for Winehouse to put out new music (beyond a “whatever” cameo on Quincy Jones’s new album), the band on this track has put a couple amazing records with Sharon Jones. Check out I Learned the Hard Way. It’s truly outstanding.

Some People (from “Gypsy”)
Music by Jule Styne; Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed on GLEE by Chris Colfer

From the Broadway musical “Gypsy,” which tells the story of Gypsy Rose Lee and her mother, Rose, the original “stage mother.” Rose spends the show trying to make her two daughters famous, mostly failing along the way. It also gave us “Small World,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Let Me Entertain You” and “Rose’s Turn,” which was also performed on GLEE. I think we can expect Ryan Murphy to slot the rest in before GLEE throws in the towel.

Josh Note: “Gypsy” is “loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist.” That’s from Wikipedia, which makes me laugh for a couple reasons, not the least of which being that it insinuates there was a “famous striptease artist” in the 1950’s. I wonder what the equivalent would be today. Maybe Britney Spears? I often feel like watching her is just a game of Wardrobe Chicken. And, her stage usually includes at least one pole.

Other Josh Note: I went with the Patti Lupone version because that’s just how I roll.

Try a Little Tenderness
Written by Irving King and Harry M. Woods
Most Notably Performed by Otis Redding
Performed on GLEE by Amber Riley

This was written in 1932 and performed by people like Bing Crosby, and it sounded like you’d expect from the man who gave us “Mele Kalikimaka.” But, in 1966, Otis Redding resurrected it, changed the lyrics, and sang it in front of Booker T. & the MG’s and we got the rowdy, impassioned plea that Rolling Stone and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called one of the best songs ever recorded.

Josh Note: Otis Redding, people. If he doesn’t stir your soul, you don’t have one.

My Man
Music by Jule Styne; Lyrics by Bob Merrill
Performed Most Notably by Barbra Streisand
Performed on GLEE by Lea Michelle

This is our third song from “Funny Girl” on GLEE, which, if nothing else, is better than a single song from “Funny Lady.” The original title of the show was actually “My Man,” which would’ve changed the whole timbre of its reception, one would think. The show is based on the life and career of comedienne Fanny Brice and her relationship with entrepreneur and gambler Nicky Arnstein. It was a part that made and was made for Barbra Streisand, and won everyone involved many shelves of awards.

Josh Note: It’s funny that the Wikipedia page doesn’t even mention the show’s 1975 sequel “Funny Lady,” which brought back Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif, and mixed in James Caan, Ben Vereen and Roddy McDowall. It’s not a horrible movie (the music’s by Kander and Ebb), but like most forgotten sequels (“Oliver’s Story,” “The Last Days of Patton,” “It Runs in the Family,” “Shock Treatment,” “Grease 2,” “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” I can go on…), it’s forgotten for a reason.

Pure Imagination
Written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse
Most Notably Performed by Gene Wilder
Performed on GLEE by the Glee Cast

A memorable film with an equally memorable soundtrack, it’s one of those movies where just about everyone was at their best. It’s been released on every home format imaginable, performed on stage and covered countless time. Still, I think it’s inspired as many nightmares as dreams.

Josh Note: Honestly, as a child, I don’t think I ever got through this film in one sitting. It was just too damn scary. “The Rowing Song?” Seriously. Satanic cults chant that to summon the Dark One. I’ve no doubt.

Want more? Listen to our podcast about GLEE’s “Funeral!”

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